A recent New York University study reveals that students of all races prefer Latino or black teachers over their white peers. The results come as a surprise, considering racial awareness could have played out as a major factor in the study.
The case seemed to be quite the opposite. The study was conducted by Peter Halpin and Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng. The latter is of Chinese descent. Though he now works as a sociologist for the New York University, he has had experiences with students, while teaching math at a middle school in San Francisco. Its students were 85% African-American.
Though Cheng was received with an initial awkwardness created by the racial barrier, he later became popular among students. Ever since he has wondered if his racial identity had anything to do with it.
The study that he authored was based on another study: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Measure of Effective Teaching. Between 2009 and 2011, more than 50,000 students and 1,680 teachers were asked to provide data regarding their own school experience.
“This study provides empirical evidence that at least from the student perspective, there is something really different going on,” Cherng said.
In the original paper, students would be asked about their teachers’ supportive attitude, their ability to captivate, to challenge, or to simply maintain order during class. During their research, Cherng and Halpin noticed that Latino teachers were favored over white teachers, even by white students. Black teachers had the advantage over white teachers, as well. But to Cherng’s surprise, it was Asian students who cherished black teachers most. Of course, this particular result is like an alternate universe version of Cherng’s own teaching experience, but with a positive outcome.
Regarding the reasoning for this result, Cherng believes that the minority teachers are better appreciated precisely because of their experience and knowledge regarding racial issues. Such problems become unavoidable, especially in public schools that run on a majority-minority day-to-day basis.
Cherng wishes to continue this study, in order to prove that a certain multicultural awareness should become a mandatory skill that needs to be implemented in teacher training. It’s more often that minority teachers form bonds with their students, so maybe it’s time everyone learned something from that particular aspect.
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